Historically, midwifery has been an oral culture, where the generation of knowledge occurs through narrative or ‘storytelling’ rather than through scientific data. In recent years, however, the prevalence of scientific knowledge has dominated midwifery. The gold standard of scientific research is the randomised controlled trial, which is arguably a poor fit for normal midwifery practice because, in its purest form, midwifery is about supporting and enabling physiology with minimal intervention. A number of practices in midwifery have seen widespread adoption before there were published scientific data to support them. These include non-suturing of perineal tears in the 1990s, the use of water and, more recently, the use of hypnosis techniques for labour and birth. It seems possible that the narrative tradition of knowledge-sharing in midwifery may have contributed to these phenomena. Midwives should be encouraged to value this ‘way of knowing’ more highly, and research in the context of UK midwifery practice should be undertaken to develop the knowledge base.